The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
University should change policy to allow students to carry tobacco
By BILL BERRY, Staff Reporter
Published: January 9, 2013
When Seattle Pacific changed its alcohol and tobacco policy a few years ago, it gave more freedom to its students than the vast majority of Christian colleges across the country.
According to the 2011-2012 Residential Student handbook, “The University does not permit students to use or possess alcohol or tobacco products on University property or as part of any SPU activities.”
The decision to allow the use of tobacco off campus was great. But what was not a great decision was not allowing students to possess tobacco related products on campus. It may be perfectly fine for a student to smoke off campus with their friends, but as soon as a student steps foot on campus with their bag of tobacco, they are now violating Lifestyle Expectations.
This rule seems a bit nonsensical. People who smoke pipe tobacco are not going to spend eight dollars on a bag of tobacco, smoke a bowl or two and then throw it away.
If a cigarette smoker buys a pack of cigarettes and smokes a few, they then have to throw the pack away so they can go to class. It just doesn’t make sense. And that is why the rule is neither enforced by Res. Life nor followed by the students on campus.
I remember my freshman year Peer Advisor telling me that Res. Life knows that smokers have tobacco on campus. They just don’t want to see it. Instead of a rule being enforced, a just-don’t-talk-about-it-policy is enforced instead.
Realistically, however, Res. Life could choose to enforce the rules at any moment. Res.Life has known most students on floors to have tobacco products on them. Even though students are taught by Res. Life staff that the rule doesn’t matter. That isn’t right. It causes students to act secretive and hide the fact that they smoke for fear of a false reprimand.
That is the opposite of what the rules should accomplish. Students should not have to hide the fact that they smoke; it is not against the rules.
SPU states its reasoning in their position for having a drug-free campus: “The purpose of SPU’s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use Policy is to support the educational mission of the University with standards of personal health, moral integrity, and social consciousness. The policy is also intended to provide guidelines for members of the University community who are sensitive to the varieties of Christian perspectives represented on campus, the Free Methodist Church, and the community at large.”
For some, this represents an area of personal liberty, but for others it is a stumbling block.
This statement puts tobacco and alcohol on the same level, which simply isn’t true. Tobacco cannot intoxicate students. The statement also says that the tobacco policy is in line with SPU’s educational mission of personal health and social consciousness.
As far as social consciousness goes, the policy needs to be a compromise. People smoke. People who are not okay with people smoking should get used to the fact that many people do, which is why they have tobacco in their purses or backpacks.
Students have been carrying tobacco around campus ever since the lifestyle expectations allowed them to smoke off campus, probably even before that. It has not affected the school community, and it never will.